Posts Tagged ‘Art’


Gujarat is better called Manchester of the East. It has been involved in textiles since centuries. Almost all parts of the state have a unique style of textiles, weaving and embroideries. All the creations have a versatility that makes the embroideries famous all over the world.


The most important centers of embroidery work of Gujarat are located in the Saurashtra and Kutch regions and are admired for their creative excellence. Kutch, being a desert, there are less chances to celebrate life. But the way people live is really varied and appreciable. The women add colors to life and create innumerable opportunities to celebrate everyday life through their arts. A striking feature of the Kutch embroidery is that at a very early age, the girls acquire the embroidery skills and they prepare their own wedding garments. These exclusively created embroidered works are then sent to the in-laws for closer examination, which is one of the important criteria for deciding matrimonial alliances!

Saurashtra, on the other hand, is home to the oldest form of embroidery, Kathi, which is known for its romantic motifs.
The designs and the techniques vary with the communities and regions. Apart from this, the embroidering is a source of second income for most of the nomads, wives of the herdsmen and agriculturalists of Gujarat.


The artisans of Gujarat use an array of stitches that are used to decorate the items. The embroidery of Gujarat is highly praised for the distinct quality of raw material and the creations follow an excellent technique. The embroidery work done by the people of Gujarat thus displays the artisanship of the local artisans. These deserve promotion and acceptance.

Whenever we visit Kutch or Saurashtra, let’s make it a point to bring home these colors of life!

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• Being a doctor by profession, how did you get into art and collection of artifacts? 
I was first an art and antique lover and then a doctor. Since childhood, I grew up in an environment of art, particularly from the side of my maternal family. Because I could even draw and paint well, I got into the art circle since the early days. But, later on, when I was about 38 years old, I started collecting coins. My father was well-travelled, so he had a lot of coins of other countries. After simple world coins, I moved on to ancient Indian coins and antiques. For the last 20 years, I have collected a lot of things. First, they lay as a bulk in cupboards, but gradually, I started studying them, got into other, similar enthusiast groups and this is how the hobby grew.

 Right. So you are into coin collection as well as antiques and.. art.
Contemporary Indian artists: I collect their paintings also. I have other hobbies as well, which are not related to art. I am a naturalist, a bird conservator and photographer, I teach medical students as a hobby. And I do a lot of charity work in the tribal areas of North Gujarat.

 That’s multi-tasking!
That is multi-tasking. I enjoy doing all these and I find time to justify them all.

• How did you come up with this beautiful concept of ‘home-museum’?
That’s because I didn’t want my collection to be in cupboards. And if I want to display it for myself, I should live in it. So I have put it in such a way that me, my family and friends can see it all the time. This way it is not only maintained and kept clean, but also I can enjoy them every day.

 Is this concept known and prevalent? 
Yes, many people do this, not as a museum though. See basically, a museum is a collection of individual items, displayed in an organized way. There are different subjects and under each, there are lot of articles, some of them rare and ancient. So, otherwise, using antiques as an interior decoration for homes is a common concept.

• Museums are on an extinction mode. People have shifted to other mediums of entertainment. What are the responsible reasons?
Today, things are easily available in books and on the internet. So, any interested person who wants to study something or know more about something, gets the information through such mediums. But, seeing a particular thing and then studying it is always more enjoyable. Overall, the attention of people is shifting from art and antiques, because there are many other diversions. But these antiques are not made, they cannot be re-made. They are made once and can either be made available or they perish. And so, to preserve, study and enjoy them and our heritage is our duty.

• Do you think that people’s love for heritage moves somewhere around just the ‘Heritage Week’ that we celebrate?
During Heritage Week, my museum also remains flooded with people. But no, I see that they are interested people. They are searching for a cause, for a group where they can go and study such things. New comers hunt for experts who can teach them. And that is why there has to be a proper body, a proper organization that can guide them, associate with them and arrange programs for them.

• Do we have any such organization?
No, these things happen only occasionally. As an ongoing, permanent group, there is none. Antiques, you will be surprised, just this one term, has such a large connotation. It is a collection of many things. But I haven’t come across any group which is related to antiques. There are groups for coins and stamps though.

• Do you plan to start one?!
No, no! But I keep on inducing my friends and the young generation to get interested into art.

 What do you enjoy the most from amongst your prized possessions?
It is my grandfather’s Bharat Ratna Medal. Who can get a Bharat Ratna?! There are only a few people, who have been honored with this medal. So it is the most prized one for me. Value wise, I can’t imagine! Nothing is individually valuable in the museum. They are more valuable as a collection or as an ancient piece. Also, I have a letter from Gandhiji to my grandfather. These are some of the very precious possessions. They’re treasures.

• You belong to a political background. Gulzarilal Nandaji was your maternal grandfather. You never thought of getting into the field?
I don’t think he was a politician. He was a leader, he became the Prime Minister twice. But he never was a politician in today’s sense. He was extremely honest and till the end of his life, he did not touch any sort of money. He used to donate his own salary. So, politics did not come into our blood, as politics! And all us were and are professionals. We were never attracted to politics as a profession to make money or lead the mass. We are of a strong belief that we must change our own life and lives of those near us. And that is the best way of changing the world.

• You also head the Gujarat Coins Society. How does it work?
I was the President of Gujarat Coins Society for many years. It is a hobby circle, which promotes the hobby of collecting coins. Along with coins, there are currency notes and other related hobbies. Coin collection, basically, is a royal hobby. It is one of the oldest hobby. You can know so much about history and geography. Imagine, I give you a coin and tell you that this is of the time when Buddha was alive, how exciting it would be! This is a very interesting hobby, and Gujarat Coins Society promotes it.

• While collecting such a huge amount of artifacts, is there any particular memory that you would like to share?
Many things today, by value, might have become more expensive. But I got some rare things, like cameras, for as much as Rs. 15 or 30. One such incident is again, related to a camera. I have one that is a century old. It came as a simple box and the owner did not even know that it is a camera. When I opened it, it turned out to be a Bellows Camera and I read in the literature that it is so ancient. I bought it for just Rs. 250 at that time. Also, I have a two-three centuries old wooden sculpture of the Dashavatar. I had gone to an antique wood-carving dealer, where these were lying in dirt. Even the dealer never knew what this was. But I could recognize the Narsinh Avatar and others. So I bought the whole stuff, the ten pieces and got them cleaned.

• It requires a lot of study, to know what’s what!
You need to be in touch with it. You need to move around, meet people who can guide you and read the literature.

• Any message that you would like to give to the society?
Yes, of course. I would like to address particularly the youth that you must have a major hobby. And, I do not include reading, travelling, photography, music, watching movies/TV or even watching cricket as a hobby. Because these are essential things, everyone should know them! Hobby is beyond all these. Follow a musical instrument, collection hobbies like stamps or coins, follow a sport in-depth – these are real hobbies. So you must have a hobby that is a very good friend in your later life or in your leisure time. It is a good support to you. Don’t just be free, when you are free! Pursue a hobby. Another thing is, you must preserve your heritage. So many people have discarded old things from their homes and now none of them is available. Most of them are destroyed or they went out of India. We are losing out on our heritage.

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Now this is something most of us are not aware of. Glass painting in India originated in Gujarat in the eighteenth century, which was home to many glass painting artists from China. From Gujarat, the art form has spread to many corners of India.
Apart from its birthplace, what is it that makes glass painting so unique?


The glass paintings are noted for their thematic variety, sheer brilliance, stunning clarity and use of rich colors. They comprise of engraving laid down on the back of the glass and are painted from the reverse. The process requires immense skill and, as a genre, glass painting is extremely difficult for the sequence of steps followed when painting on an opaque surface, is reversed in painting glass.

The medium of glass provides the painter with something that no other mediums can – the light effect. This makes the paintings look truly delicate and beautiful.
Glass painting necessitates some proper methods that are followed by the artists. The artist first begins the picture and fills the outlines and finer details with the brush. After the completion of the painting, these lines appear on the top layer. To give a glittering look, the unpainted areas of the painting are pasted with gold or silver foil. Then the larger areas are filled in with opaque paints. These areas are generally given a flat finish and in some paintings shading techniques are used.


The glass painting developed as the local painters incorporated their painting ideas and put them on glass by depicting popular stories, epic themes, portraits and icons on the glass paintings. This form of art became popular with the masses, as it was quite inexpensive. The artists used to make pictures of the rulers and aristocrats including their mistresses and dancing girls. The artisans of each region had a distinct technique and creativity that differ from one another, so is the case with Gujarat.

Be it any form of art, the religious themes always dominate in

Gujarat. Apart from them, incidents of daily life, court scenes, floral designs and portraits are common when it comes to glass paintings. Also, some of the glass paintings are embellished with gold leaf with the rich usage of bold and vibrant colors and semi precious stones that convey the creative magnificence of the skillful artisans. Sometimes the painting of a deity is surrounded within frames. The glass paintings of Gujarat stand out for their popular folk art traditions that are displayed in the art.

The painters also use dots, lines and patterns that are the empty space fillers in the picture and enhance the aesthetic appeal of the paintings.


Glass painting is a booming industry, with its exports reaching out to almost all continents. The glass painting exporters’ community is growing by the day, which is a tribute to the mushrooming Indian talent in glass painting. By depicting eye-catching patterns and designs, they have reached out to a lot of buyers, who patronize Indian glass paintings, both in India and abroad. With a diverse segregation of painting cultures and the ultimate art, it is a small wonder that Indian glass paintings are among the most sought after in the world.

Apart from it being a business, the youth see it as a line of study. Several courses for glass paintings are offered and special degrees are given by Fine Arts colleges.

But what sets Gujarat apart is, the artists here pursue glass paintings not just as an art or business, but as a passion. The language of the artistic glass paintings is expressive, lively and intelligible. The glass paintings deserve to be placed as the antique articles for the lucid designs and immense craftsmanship.

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Enthusiasts recently got together to revive an art that Gujarat boasts of – Theatre. The day was 27th March that has been celebrated as the World Theatre Day since 1961 by the International Theatre Institute (ITI).

In the olden days, theatre was the only source of entertainment for the rural public. A makeshift stage and a curtain, a couple of artists and the entire village would buzz with enthusiasm. While for the city audience, it always has been a curio. Today, the scenario has changed. People have become the slaves of other forms of media. To preserve the Gujarati theatre, we need to know how rich and varied its history in Gujarat has been.


The theatre art is more than 155 years old in Gujarat. The Gujarati play Rustom, Jabuli and Sorab, which is based on the popular dramatic tale of Shah Nama, is considered as the beginning of Gujarati theatre. It was staged at the Grant Road Theatre of Bombay on October 29, 1853.

The theatre did not have original plays needed to have an identity of its own. This compelled the famous Gujarati poet, Umashankar Joshi to make a scornful comment. In 1953, when the centenary of Gujarati theatre was celebrated, he said, “this is a wedding procession without the groom.”

There have been very less changes in the Gujarati theatre. However, the Parsi dramatic companies laid the modern Gujarati theatre’s foundation in the late 1980s. These theatre companies brought western techniques and themes as well as music to form a renewed vernacular theatre. In the modern Gujarati theatre, issues like bride price, witches, women’s health, alcoholism, vaccination etc. are raised.


Due to the onset of mainstream media like the television and films, theatre took a backseat. Few actors and fewer experiments take place in this form of art. Also, the performers who start out anxious to do something different lose no time in joining the mainstream at the first opportunity. The writers and directors associated with such movements do not happen to be so closely associated with theatre that they can be relied upon to continue to provide challenging plays.

A ray of hope in the dark future of the theatre art is the intercollegiate and other competitions. They have always been the source of emerging, new talents. The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (Bombay) and the former Bombay State Competitions held between 1950 and 1960 provided the majority of the works that served as the foundations of the Gujarati theatre.


These competitions provided most of the projects to the professional Gujarati theatre. And many personalities were born out of such programs who infused life into the art. Pravin Joshi, Vijay Dutt and Kanti Madia were launched in the 1953 competition. In the same way, some of the intercollegiate competitions organized by the Indian National Theatre in 1975-78 gave break to the talents like Mahendra Joshi, Paresh Raval, Mukesh Raval, Siddharth Randeria, Homi Wadia, Sameer Khakhar, Nikita Shah, Sujata Mehta, Daisy Rani and Latesh Shah.
Competitions held in the late eighties and early nineties have produced Prakash Kapadia and Mihir Bhuta (writers), Rajesh Joshi (director), Piyush-Taufik (music directors), Manoj Joshi, Tushar Joshi, Jamnadas Majithia, Bakul Thakkar, Shefali Shetty and Sejal Shah (performers) who went on to prove their abilities on the professional stage.

Senior and popular artistes like Jaya Bachchan and Shatrughan Sinha also ventured in the famous Gujarati theatre production house named the Sanjay Goradia Production.
The new Gujarati theatre has got some of the finest actors like Deena Gandhi-Pathak, Anasuya Sutaria, Nalini Mehta, Jashvant Thakkar, Dhananjay Thakkar, Krinalal, Khasrani, Kailash Pandya, Markand Bhatt, Urmila Bhatt, Pranasukh Nayak, Jyoti Vaidya and many others. One of the most versatile Gujarati actresses is Sarita Joshi, who has dominated the new Gujarati theatre for the longest time. One more talented Gujarati dancer and actress is Mallika Sarabhai, who made her name for the role of Draupadi in the world famous playwright Peter Brooke’s ‘Mahabharata’.

Among others, the audience has loved the performances of actors like Siddharth Randeria, Feroz Bhagat, Dilip Joshi, Tiku Talsania, Padmarani and Apara Mehta in the Gujarati theatres.


In the 21st century, films and TV have taken over the field of entertainment. But the Gujarati theatre has not lost its charm yet. Though the flow of the plays has slowed down and changes have to be made to match with the tastes of the audiences, the Gujarati theatre has survived along with the new style.

But not only have the sets, lights and other technical departments gone poor, but also the standard of direction and acting is quite low. The Government academies are indifferent to this matter. Also, the talented artists on the Gujarati stage are not willing to face strife in order to chase a vision of theatre for their artistic satisfaction.

So much is the strength of the Gujarati theatre that it is said that a Gujarati play named ‘Harishchandra’ influenced the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi very much.

The Gujarati theatre has inspired thinking of the people, created social awareness and national spirit during the pre-independence days. Gujarati people’s love to patronize their mother-tongue plays has marked the place of Gujarati theatre in the World theatres through its colorful representation of the plays. May this art see hundreds of such World Theatre Days!

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Mahipat Kavi – Dada as we fondly call him, is a storehouse of knowledge. I went to talk about puppetry with him with my book, pen and a set of questions: like all other journalists do. But soon, I had so much matter to listen that the writing part was sidelined! Mahipat Dada answers every question with a story, some also have the honor of Sanskrit Shlokas and Folk Songs. I knew him as a puppeteer, but he is a master storyteller as well. It makes you peep into yourself and your surroundings. Dada is a real inspiration to learn to live your life to the fullest and to romance with your art and work. Aditi Rindani.

How did puppetry start in Gujarat?

Puppetry is a Rajasthani art. It exists in Gujarat since thousands of years. But there is an interesting story behind the birth of modern puppetry in Gujarat, in around 1957-58. The art started from Shreyas School in Ahmedabad. Leenaben Mangaldas was the owner of the school. She was interested in educating the children through art.

Meherben Contractor was a portrait designer, whose two kids studied in that school. She had studied in England and saw puppetry as a means of education there. To implement the same in Gujarat, Leenaben sent her to study puppetry for three months in England.

Even today, Shreyas School organizes a Shreyas Mela every year that popularizes the culture and traditions of various states of India. Leenaben pioneered this insight of innovative methods of teaching children.

Since when, are you a part of puppetry?

I joined Meherben in puppetry since 1963 and worked with her for almost 15 years. Then, I started with my own organization called ‘Puppets and Plays’ in 1975. Also, I founded the Indian Puppet Academy in 1987 for training of teachers and children.

What made you join this field?

After completing my studies at the age of 19, my elders asked me to join the family business of clothing at Ranip. I denied the proposal as business involves being dishonest with customers. Back then, I had an urge to be at the service of the nation, so I joined Navjivan led by Gandhiji. After independence, the scenario changed. I joined the radio as a singer and further then, joined the Darpana Academy to learn Theatre in 1961-62. But then, I realized that my body structure was not suitable for a huge 40 feet stage!

During that time, Meherben had come to Darpana and showed the collection of foreign puppets to us. This was an interesting field and I made up my mind to work for puppetry.

What is the difference between traditional and modern puppetry?

About 22 small and big organizations work for puppetry in India. But the avenues for the use of puppetry in different fields are still unexplored. Puppets are widely used just for the sake of entertainment. It is not understood that there has to be a message for the society through this medium. There are no innovations in the traditional puppetry, may be because most of the puppeteers are not educated enough. However, plays related to religions and cultural beliefs are the most common shows with a message in India.

Puppetry is a field that should not be limited to any one subject or a class of people. Modern puppetry is all about innovations, which is yet not popularized in our country. On the other hand, traditional puppetry is a mirror of the traditions and cultures of that particular region. Each state has different subjects for their puppetry. Also, there are different stories for the origin of puppetry in different regions.

What is the story behind Gujarat’s puppetry?

Gujarat, as I mentioned, has followed puppetry of Rajasthan. The two states may have different geographies but they have shared culture and traditions.

Puppetry art in Rajasthan is called ‘Kathputli’ that was started by Kavi Kank who was the main poet in the kingdom of King Vikram in Ujjain. Kank used to ridicule all the new poets who came to the King. The poets were never satisfied and outraged by this, once a poet appeased the King and demanded that Kank should be ashamed of his acts. Kank was afraid of humiliation and he escaped to a village called Basi in Rajasthan. This village was known for the wooden statues made by the carpenters. Kank got a wooden head made and wrote the famous story of ‘Batris Putli’ based on this. In this way, the fantasy started and took the shape of puppetry.

Also, in Gujarat, there lived an alchemist named Pad Lipt Suri in Palitana. He was a Jain Sadhu who made robots and puppets for the spread of Jain culture.

How puppetry is important? In which sections can it be used?

I recently wrote a play titled ‘Gujarat Gaurav Gatha’ that talks about the progress of Gujarat. The play starts with the story of Lord Indra, Dadhichi Rushi and Vatrasur Rakshas. Then God Ram and God Krishna came. These were followed by Gandhiji and Narendra Modi. So be it stories like these or simply spread of awareness about Government policies, puppetry is an important medium. It is economical and equally enjoyed by the children and the old.

Apart from these, puppetry is also used in
– Children’s Education
– Mass Communication
– Education for the Disabled and Mentally Retarded
– Adult Education
– Entertainment for patients at the hospital
– Entertainment at hotels and restaurants
– Advertisements

Can you share a memorable incident related to puppetry?

One of the fields in which puppetry is used is for the education of the mentally retarded. There is a school for such children named Sharda near Ellis Bridge in Ahmedabad. Once while conducting a exhibition there, a boy saw a lady puppet and turned aggressive. He started screaming, crying and tore the entire puppet. When we inquired, we got to know that he hates his stepmother and took out all the frustration on the puppet, which resembled the face of that woman. The boy, after this incident, became normal! This was a miracle.

What is the difference between human drama and puppet drama?

Fantasy is the element that distinguishes the two of them. Puppet drama must have fantasy as the basic aspect. No human drama can be directly played through puppets, and if played, it will not be interesting. This is because puppets are different from human beings. So, a script has to be puppetized, just as a story is dramatized.

Do you think puppetry is a dying art?

No. Puppetry is changing its form. However, it is true that this art is not getting the importance it deserves. The modern society is too much inclined towards film and TV. Also, the people who knew this art have turned it into a business, a means to earn money. In olden days, there was no fee to see such arts! But today, everything is commercialized.

What should be done to save such arts?

Let me share a recent proposal. I have applied to the Central Government with a suggestion to start a residential school for such traditional arts. Students have to stay here and dedicate time for such arts.

There is no place for such art in today’s schools. Every school has an art teacher who teaches the student to draw a flower but never takes that student to a garden to see that flower, teach him not to pluck them and then ask him to draw. It is all about show off and modernization. But, what we forget is, man is born out of culture and if we lose the essence of culture, we are not human beings!

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COLORS OF GUJARAT: unparalleled, original and gorgeous! So are the colors of its rich textiles. Gujarat is home to some of the most exquisite handiwork of India.

A craft that is almost synonymous to the heritage of Gujarati textiles is the Patola (Sari) of Patan. Even before the invention of machines, this craft was developed with the help of insight and strength. It is believed that Patolas date back to the 4th century AD and the art originated in Patan, North Gujarat. The tie and dye has unique colors, techniques and designs that glorify Gujarat. The word Patola comes from the term ‘Patt’ that means a silk cloth in Tamil and Malayalam.


Patolas enjoy the luxury of being auspicious. Epics like the Ramayana and Narsinh Puran refer to the use of Patola in marriage ceremonies as a holy garment. Ramayana mentions that during the Ram-Rajya, King Janak had presented a Patola to Sita, the wife of Lord Ram. In addition, during the period of Lord Krishna, Narsinh Mehta had presented a Patola to Kunvarbai.

This traditional art received great patronage during the Chalukya period of King Kumarpal’s reign before about 800 years. King Kumarpal ruled Patan after Siddhraj Jaisingh. The King’s queen supposedly wore a new Patola daily. This is recorded in the autobiography of Kumarpal. It is also believed that he used a new Patola daily to offer prayers. Patola being made out of pure silk was acceptable by Jainism for worship. The King, hence, invited 700 families of Patola weavers from Jalna (South Maharashtra) to settle down in Patan and ever since Patolas are attached to Patan as an inseparable tradition.

Apart from these, some paintings in the famous Ajanta caves also resemble the tie and dye technique of Patolas.


Patola is often termed as the queen of all saris. They are one of the finest hand-woven qualities of textiles available in India. The style of Patola that is weaved in Patan is called ‘Double-Ikat’ (Ikat is an Indonesian word). The art is a tedious process, which takes days of hard work.

The Patolas are produced from thousands of years by the same process as it was before, until today. No technician or invention of machines is in a position to make a single percent modification in the technique and the process of preparing a Patola, as it is a special skill.

The technique involved in Patan Patola is that both the warp and the weft threads are tied in areas where the original is to be retained and then dyed. They continue to tie the threads from the lighter color to the darker color until the final pattern is dyed on to the unwoven thread. After this both tied and dyed weft and warp threads are woven and the design emerges. This is known as Patola. The ‘Double-Ikat’ style is different as here, the warp and weft is the tied and dyed before they are woven. The pattern emerges as the warp is laid out and then is brilliantly outlined when the weft is thrown across.

Tying-untying, retying and dyeing in different shades are the main features of this process that is done in a manner that the knotted portions of the thread do not catch color. It is very complex and meticulous.


The peculiar way of preparing the warp and weft used in Patolas, gives it an appearance of double cloth though it is single with the same colors in particular design on both the sides.

Traditionally pure silk and natural dyes were used to prepare Patolas. However, since about last 100 years, tradition had given way to the use of fast-to-bleach and easy-to-dye chemical colors. Therefore, the use of natural dyes in Patola is discontinued. Since last twenty years, the old traditions have made a comeback due to their eco-friendliness and with a view to maintain the heritage.

The re-introduced vegetable materials are Turmeric, Marigold Flower, Onion Skin, Pomegranate Rinds, Madder, Lac, Catechu, Cochineal, Indigo along with different mordant like Alum, Tin Chloride, Ferrous Sulphate, Copper Sulphate, Tennic Acid, Oxalic Acid, Potassium Dichromate etc. The colors OF Patola are so fast that there is a popular Gujarati saying about the Patola saris that “The Patola may tear, but the color will not fade.” Some of the natural, vegetable colors are Wax, Indigo, Pomegranate Bark, Katho, Majith, Kapilo, Alum, Kirmaj, Harsingar, Bojgar, Iron Rust, Logware, Turmeric etc.

Essentially the designs in a Patola are based on traditional motifs called “Bhat”. The main Patola designs are pan bhat – leaf design, ratan chok bhat – jewel square, popat kunjar bhat – parrot and elephant design, nari kunjar bhat – woman and elephant design, chhabadi bhat – basket design and vohra gali bhat – pattern preferred by Vohra Muslims. Originally, Patola was woven in four distinct styles. For Jains and Hindus, it was done in Double Ikat style with all over patterns of flowers, parrots, dancing figures and elephants. For the Muslim Vohra community, wedding saris were woven with geometric and floral designs. For Maharashtrian Brahmins, Nari Kunj saris of plain, dark-color body and borders, with women and birds were woven. Lastly, there were exclusive saris woven for the traditional export markets in the Far East.

The designs, which may comprise floral, animal or human motifs, are first drawn on paper to achieve accuracy.


One of them is the Salvi community. The products of the Patola loom are predominantly sari lengths, which are among the most famous textiles in the world. These Double Ikat textiles were woven in Patan, Surat and other centers, but there are now only about two families of Jains weaving them in Patan. Cheaper Patola imitations are woven in Single Ikat at Rajkot, Saurashtra and in both single and double Ikat in Andhra Pradesh in the south.


The process of coloring the threads takes nearly 75 days, followed by 3-4 months by 4-5 artisans to weave just one sari. A weaver can weave only 5-6 inches within a day. After working for 10-12 hours a day, no holidays and a group working together, it takes almost one and half year to complete a Patola sari.

For preparing Patola, skilled labor, precision, calculation and patience are of utmost importance. As a result, a Patola sari costs high but as it gets older its cost increases inspite of decreasing. One sari under normal use lasts for 80-100 years. Therefore, it is considered as an ornament and a priceless dignity, even today.


The unique artisanship of Patola is not only appreciated but also conferred with many awards. – National Award in 1983 by the then President Shri Zail Singh
– Master crafts persons awards in 1965, 1978, 1987, 1997
– Government of India has launched ‘Patan Patola’s postage stamp of Rs. 5/- on 15th November, 2002
– Award by National Innovation Foundation on 5th January, 2005 given away by Shri Abdul Kalam
– Best Award in Handicraft Works in 2006 given by Shri Narendra Modi
– Introduced at the international exhibition held in UK in September 2009 as a part of Swarnim Gujarat

These awards on an individual basis and community basis have boosted the morale of the artisans to a great level.


The mention of Patan’s Patola in various folk and traditional songs has made Patolas a unique identity of Patan. It has put Patan on the world map, making Patolas not only a pride of Gujarat but also that of India.

‘Chhellaji re mare hatu Patan thi Patola mongha laavjo…’ is a very famous folk-song in which a wife puts forward her demand for an expensive Patola to her husband. Just like the popularity of the song, the fame and charm of Patolas is unrivalled even today.

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Art and Craft are weaved along with Gujarat since the time of the nomadic men and the cave age. Over the years, some of the arts were abandoned; some were made more creative while some were perceived as a routine culture and tradition. One such imagination and creativity gave birth to the Terracotta Art of Pottery.

Terracotta can be called a type of clay modeling. Terra means the ‘Earth Soil’ in Latin and ‘Cotta’ means ‘Statue’ in Italian language. Terracotta Art in Gujarat is especially famous for its votive terracotta figures which are found in large numbers in rural Gujarat. It is believed that the communities called the Rathwas and the Bhils of Gujarat are blessed with this art.

An apt amount of refined clay is the main element of the Terracotta. This clay is dried and then cast, molded or hand worked into the desired shape. The drying needs to be thorough. After this assurance, the material is then put into a furnace or on the top of a combustible pit and fired. After firing, the pit or the furnace is then covered with sand to cool. However if the material is fired to high temperature it would be classed as a ceramic material.

The unglazed material can be used for garden ware, decoration, oil lamps or ovens. This is not water-proof. So for other uses like sanitary piping, decoration in freezing areas or table ware, the terracotta needs to be glazed. The color of the Terracotta changes after the firing. The most common colors are orange, brown or orangish red due to the iron content in the common clay. Other colors may also be pink, yellow and gray. Earlier, the artisans were not aware about the use of color. But with the advancement, they started using red and black colors to decorate this earthen material.

Gujarat is a place where every act of life has some special religious or cultural ceremony linked to it. Terracotta is originally a female creation. When the men of the family were busy hunting, farming or in a small scale business, the women engaged themselves in making articles out of clay. The articles included utensils, toys etc. At a later stage, the womenfolk who were wise enough started translating their imaginations into the work of art.
The Terracotta articles in Gujarat are usually prepared to offer to a deity and each figure has a special significance. Terracotta figures are offered to the deities at various ceremonies at the shrines and temples found in the rural Gujarat. Gujarat is full of such shrines on mountains, beneath trees, on a deserted road or barren field. The Terracotta figures add to the mystic and spirituality of the surroundings.

The figures include horses, cows, bulls, buffaloes, elephants, replicas of insects that destroy the crops and also human beings. The horse is considered the most important of these clay figures and offered quite regularly at the shrines. Gujarat is also known for Dhabu, a Terracotta art that is dome shaped houses offered to the spirits of the dead. The styles and techniques of the terracotta figures vary from area to area, and ranging in size from 2cm to 1m high depending on the quality of clay.

The entire process starts when the tribals decide to make an offering to the shrines. That person places an order with the potter and from the initial phase of the work to the time of offering personally rules and governs the action. Small offerings are made at the shrine with the Terracotta, live chicken, rice, coconuts and liquor. For the big offerings, friends and relatives are invited and then together the Terracotta is offered. The villagers, head of the village, the priest, the drummer, the pipe player and others go to the potter’s house. The Terracottas are collected and the potter is paid in rice or maize as well as money, depending upon the size of the order. He is also given coconuts and liquor. It seems to be none less than a celebration. In Gujarat there are many Tribal gods to whom Terracottas are offered, including ancestral gods, gods for crops, field gods, medicine gods and animal gods.

The wide use of metal has adversely affected the use of Terracotta figures as far as utensils are concerned. But on the other hand, the crude and attractive ethnic touch has made the Terracotta figures famous as decoration items in India as well as abroad. But despite the immense potentiality in the art, it is on a decline. Various reasons are held responsible: Disintegration among the artisans, financial hardship, poor infrastructure, dearth of design development, absence of market strategy, scarcity of raw materials, poor packing system, poor knowledge of accounting, ignorance on drinking water system, electrification system, post and telecommunication system and sanitary system, inadequate exposure of art and artisans etc.
Unless and until, we are aware of the immense potential of this art in Gujarat, no blame game can help prevent Terracotta go to Tatters!

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A land with many reasons to celebrate, a land with unparalleled spirit, always on the run; this land of Western India is named Gujarat. Very traditional in its roots yet one of the most forward societies of the country, Gujarat has left many a things behind. But down the memory lane, we realize that old arts are still running in its veins. One such art being the Pithora Paintings.
The Pithora paintings trail back long into history and find their roots in the cave paintings, thousands of years old. This is the most prevalent and characteristic art tradition of the Rathwa community, who live in the Central Gujarat, 90 kms from Vadodara in a village called Tejgadh. The Pithora paintings are crude and it is this crudity that adds to the beauty and simplicity of the paintings.


The main group of tribes who practice this art are called Rathwas. However, the villages surrounding Tejgadh and Chhota Udaipur have other tribes as well who execute the Pithora paintings. These are very religious people and for them the presence of Baba Pithora is of divine importance. The Pithora painters are called Lakharas, the one who keeps an account of all the work is called Jokhara and the head priest is called Badwa. An interesting fact of these paintings is that only men are allowed to pursue this art and not the females of the family.


Most of the Indian Arts have some legends attached to its origin. Pithora paintings are no exceptions. They have two main stories that are as old as time itself. One of the ideas was of a map. This tradition is supposed to have started in the 11th century, when Bharuch was a centre for traders from the North. The roads to Bharuch were real mysterious and even dangerous. So the tribes decided to earn a livelihood by escorting Indian and Foreign traders through this region. And to keep their profession safe, the leader of the tribe prepared a map full of codes. Thus, the seven hills became represented by seven horses and the mouth of river Narmada by two tigers. The leader also ordered the escorts to make the same painting in their houses. The people who agreed to the order were called Rathwas while those who did not were called Talawis. This practice went on and the act of making the paintings became a ritual and Pithora became their God.

The second myth is the story of Baba Pithora. One of the seven sisters of Raja Indra, Rani Kadi Koyal had an affair with Raja Kanjurana. She was still a maiden when she gave birth to a son and due to the fear of her brother; she let the boy afloat in a stream. Indra’s other two sisters found the boy while fetching water and named him Pithora. The story progresses as the boy stays at the palace and one fine day finds out who his parents were.  The King Indra accepted Pithora and invited a Grand Court where Pithora immediately identified Raja Kanjurana as his father. After much rejoicing, a grand wedding ceremony was arranged and Pithora wed Pithori with much aplomb. And so is the story depicted in the Pithora paintings.


The process starts with the unmarried girls grinding the cow dung and the white chalk powder to paint the walls. Powder, earth and vegetable colors are mixed with milk and Mahua flower liquor to prepare the yellow, indigo, green, vermillion, red and silver dye for the Pithora Paintings. Whereas the brush is made by either chewing or beating the ends of a bamboo stick or twigs. Animistic figures – bull, horses, birds and tigers are an inseparable part of each Pithora Painting. But now as the times are changing when one can find the paintings of airplanes, trains, cars and other such modern things.

These paintings are made with the basic intention to appease or thank the Gods or for a wish to be granted. The head priest is summoned and the problems are narrated. Then after the solution is given by the priest, the ritual of paintings start. Generally the painting starts on a Tuesday and ends by Wednesday night. The paintings flood three walls of the house and the main wall of the verandah that divides it from the kitchen is called the Pithoro. The paintings have wavy lines, the marriage ceremony of Pithora and Pithori, and other animals like the white horses that depict the ghosts and witches who need to be satisfied with gifts.
When the Lakharas paint, the others sing and dance. When the paintings are done with, the head priest looks for loopholes and these are also corrected through hand work. The paintings are outlined with the help of a twig and then filled with colors. At the end, they are finished with silver color and bright colored dots. After all this, the sacrificing, singing, dancing and feasting is witnessed by visitors even from far away distances. The Pithora is said to be witnessing all this and whenever one sees a Pithora, more than half of the hut is given over to Him and marked as His presence.

Pithora paintings continue to be realistic and ritualistic as in the past. Today the tribes even paint for commercial reasons due to poverty and great demand of the art. But the Rathwas take care that the compositions are changed a little before they sell them. Today, one can find the Rathwas as farmers, computer graduates and even teachers. When asked they would say they love teaching the art to others as long as it is not misused. Pithora paintings are divine and their form should never be changed. Many organizations work for the betterment of the Rathwas and to give exposure to this dying art and various allied fields.
This varied heritage of the Rathwas should be definitely preserved as they add one of the brightest colors to the wide-ranging colors of Gujarat.

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Tarnetar is a much awaited fair of Gujarat filled with fun, romance and colors. It is organized every year for three days at a village called Tarnetar, in Surendranagar District. Its origin is linked to a legend of Draupadi’s Swayamvar where the great archer Arjun had successfully completed the feat of piercing the eye of a rotating fish with an arrow by just looking at its reflection in the water. This task won Arjun his bride Draupadi. In a similar pattern Tarnetar fair is also an ethnic celebration meant for young tribal men and women seeking their marriage partners. Also, the fair is called Trineteshwar Mahadev fair (the three eyed Lord Shiva) whose temple stands on the banks of a rivulet and opens into a beautiful kund (pond). This kund is believed to be the origin of the Ganges and hence a very pious place. Apart from these, the fair is all about folk dances, glittering costumes, ornaments, music and different arts like tattoo making and photography. The fair is growing in popularity attracting not only tribes but also people from entire country and abroad. A peculiarity of the fair is that the young prospective grooms hold umbrellas specially designed by them with beadwork, patchwork and other embellishments. And the girls wear red zimi (skirt) if she seeks a boy and a black skirt indicates that she is married. The fair is attended by more than 50000 people. This year it is scheduled on 11, 12 and 13 September. What more does one need to walk out from a hectic life to a whirlwind of fun, frolic, romance and colors?

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Dr Tejus Naik converted his house into a museum to display his collection of antiques; the curios will be open for public viewing during Heritage Week

Doorway to heaven: This 350-yr-old intricately carved darwaza depicts Lord Krishna perched on a tree. The scene represents Sita vastra-haran

This collection of antiques is as big as a museum’s. And it’s the handiwork of just one man, Dr Tejus Naik, who spent 15 long years gathering every little curio he could lay his hands on one by one. Now, he is opening up his collection at Hindu Colony in Navrangpura for public viewing during the Heritage Week.

“I started the activity as a hobby. But over the years, it has grown so much. I don’t wish to spread knowledge, just want people to see them for their beauty. The Heritage Week is an ideal occasion to invite the public,” said Naik.

Naik inaugurated the museum on January 26, 2006. His mother Dr Pushpa Naik, 88, said, “Tejus’ habit of dumping the curios at home drove me mad. Later, he bought a couple of cupboards to display his collection. Gradually, he added lightings and drew up presentations. This is how the museum got started.”

Naik’s collection of paintings, Ganeshas and a variety of curios mainly embellish the winding staircase that leads up to the second floor of his house. It showcases replicas of some of India’s well-known painters, besides a host of Ganesh idols made of material like gold, brass, bamboo, lead, coconut, fibre, ceramic, zinc and fluorescent tube.

“I have collected things that my generation may be familiar with, but the next generation might miss out on,” he says. Things like models and paintings of horses from around the world, more than 50 types of cameras, among which one is more than a 100 years old make for a pretty sight. There is also a variety of bells, ancient and the modern. This includes an elephant’s bell, a cow bell and a Tibetan bell, too.

But the pride of place belongs to Naik’s maternal grandfather Gulzarilal Nanda’s original certificate of Bharat Ratna, his Padma Vibhushan medal, stamps and books brought out in his name.

Also of wide interest are figurines of Brahma, Annapurna, Vishupaksh of Hampi, Garuda, Jagannath and many others. The large variety of antique household items like telephones, charcoal and steam irons, flower vases, ink pots etc. take you back in time. Besides this, rare items like fossils of soil, wood, fish and dinosaur teeth dating back to 100-150 million years give the place a mystique that’s unlike a house.

His numerous coins, including funny money that has printing or minting flaws, are a treasure in themselves. By virtue of that, Naik is president of Gujarat Coins Society.

Among the ancient manuscripts and legal documents are a ‘firman’ and a 60-foot horoscope of one particular individual — both 100 years old.

— Dr Tejus Naik’s ‘home museum’ at Hindu Colony in Navrangpura is open for Amdavadis during Heritage Week beginning November 23. Time: 2 pm to 5 pm.

No Horsing around:
Dr Tejus Naik with his precious
collection that
includes models
and paintings of horses from all around the world
sign of times: Letters and autographs by Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, Rabindranath Tagore, Vikram Sarabhai,
APJ Abdul Kalam, Satyajit Ray, Umashankar Joshi,
and Indira Gandhi find a place in Naik’s collection
Bone up: These dinosaur fossils are 150 million years old. He bought these certified remains from Nature chain stores in the US
Prized possession:
The original Bharat Ratna medal and Padma Vibhushan medal awarded to Naik’s maternal grandfather Gulzarilal Nanda by the then President
K R Narayanan
Hotshot: Of the 50 cameras that Naik owns, this 100-year-old camera is a major attraction. While some of these cameras have been gifted to him by family and friends, he collected most by sifting through countless junk at various flea markets

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